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Israel ends military operation at Lebanese border

Lt Gen Conricus said the latest tunnel originated from the Lebanese border town of Ramyeh.

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Israeli soldiers stand around the opening of a hole that leads to a tunnel (Sebastian Scheiner/AP)

Israeli soldiers stand around the opening of a hole that leads to a tunnel (Sebastian Scheiner/AP)

Israeli soldiers stand around the opening of a hole that leads to a tunnel (Sebastian Scheiner/AP)

Israeli troops have discovered the sixth and final tunnel dug by Hezbollah militants for cross-border attacks, officials said.

The final tunnel was the largest one discovered so far, running hundreds of metres from under a Lebanese home and deep into Israeli territory, military spokesman Lt Col Jonathan Conricus said.

Israel launched Operation Northern Shield early last month to detect and destroy what it called a vast network of Hezbollah tunnels aimed at helping militants sneak across the border to carry out attacks.

Lt Gen Conricus said the latest tunnel originated from the Lebanese border town of Ramyeh.

It was 55 metres deep and ran 800 metres inside Lebanese territory and also “dozens” of metres into Israel, he said.

It included stairs, a rail system and a wide a passageway that allowed for the movement of equipment and a large number of forces.

The tunnel would be destroyed in the coming days, Lt Gen Conricus said, adding that while more tunnels still existed on the Lebanese side of the border, this effectively marked the end of the ambitious military operation.

“We have achieved the goal that we set out to achieve a month and a half ago,” he said.

“According to our intelligence, there are no longer any cross-border attack tunnels into Israel.”

Israel and the United Nations say the tunnels violate a ceasefire resolution that ended a devastating war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006.

Lt Gen Conricus says the UN peacekeeping mission, known as Unifil, had been updated on the latest development.

The powerful Shiite militant Hezbollah, which acts independently in Lebanon, has yet to comment on the Israeli discoveries.

Israel has long called for a crackdown on the Iran-backed Hezbollah, a heavily armed mini-army that is believed to possess an arsenal of some 150,000 rockets that can reach nearly all of Israel.

In recent years, Hezbollah has been bogged down in fighting in Syria on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.

But with that civil war winding down, Israeli security officials fear Hezbollah is refocusing its attention on Israel.

In the wake of its discoveries, Israel has asked the international community to impose tough sanctions on Hezbollah and begin to act against its state-within-a-state operation in Lebanon.

The military said its forces would stay deployed along the border area to monitor for any other possible underground activity, and said it holds the Lebanese government responsible for everything happening in its territory.

PA Media